XV. (71) And while he was still abiding in the mountain he was initiated in the sacred will of God, being instructed in all the most important matters which relate to his priesthood, those which come first in order being the commands of God respecting the building of a temple and all its furniture. (72) If, then, they had already occupied the country into which they were migrating, it would have been necessary for them to have erected a most magnificent temple of the most costly stone in some place unincumbered with wood, and to have built vast walls around it, and abundant and wellfurnished houses for the keepers of the temple, calling the place itself the holy city. (73) But, as they were still wandering in the wilderness, it was more suitable for people who had as yet no settled habitation to have a moveable temple, that so, in all their journeyings, and military expeditions, and encampments, they might be able to offer up sacrifices, and might not feel the want of any of the things which related to their holy ministrations, and which those who dwell in cities require to have. (74) Therefore Moses now determined to build a tabernacle, a most holy edifice, the furniture of which he was instructed how to supply by precise commands from God, given to him while he was on the mount, contemplating with his soul the incorporeal patterns of bodies which were about to be made perfect, in due similitude to which he was bound to make the furniture, that it might be an imitation perceptible by the outward senses of an archetypal sketch and pattern, appreciable only by the intellect; (75) for it was suitable and consistent for the task of preparing and furnishing the temple to be entrusted to the real high priest, that he might with all due perfection and propriety make all his ministrations in the performance of his sacred duties correspond to the works which he was now to make.
XVI. (76) Therefore the general form of the model was stamped upon the mind of the prophet, being accurately painted and fashioned beforehand invisibly without any materials, in species which were not apparent to the eye; and the completion of the work was made in the similitude of the model, the maker giving an accurate representation of the impression in material substances corresponding to each part of the model, (77) and the fashion of the building was as follows. There were eight and forty pillars of cedar, which is the most incorruptible of all woods, cut out of solid trunks of great beauty, and they were all veneered with gold of great thickness. Then under each pillar there were placed two silver pedestals to support it, and on the top of each was placed one golden capital; (78) and of these pillars the architect arranged forty along the length of the tabernacle, one half of them, or twenty, on each side, placing nothing between them, but arranging them and uniting them all in regular order, and close together, so that they might present the appearance of one solid wall; and he ranged the other eight along the inner breadth, placing six in the middle space, and two at the extreme corners, one on each side at the right and left of the centre. Again, at the entrance he placed four others, like the first in all other respects except that they had only one pedestal instead of two, as those opposite to them had, and behind them he placed five more on the outside differing only in the pedestals, for the pedestals of these last were made of brass. (79) So that all the pillars of the tabernacle taken together, besides the two at the corners which could not be seen, were fifty-five in number, all conspicuous, being the number made by the addition of all the numbers from the unit to the complete and perfect decade. (80) And if any were inclined to count those five pillars of the outer vestibule in the open air separately, as being in the outer court as it was called, there will then be left that most holy number of fifty, being the power of a rectangular triangle, which is the foundation of the creation of the universe, and is here entirely completed by the pillars inside the tabernacle; there being first of all forty, twenty on either side, and those in the middle being six, without counting those which were out of sight and concealed at the corners, and those opposite to the entrance, from which the veil was suspended, being four; (81) and the reason for which I reckon the other five with the first fifty, and again why I separate them from the fifty, I will now explain. The number five is the number of the external senses, and the external sense in man at one time inclines towards external things, and at another time comes back again upon the mind, being as it were a kind of handmaid of the laws of its nature; on which account it is that the architect has here allotted a central position to the five pillars, for those which are inside of them leant towards the innermost shrine of the tabernacle, which under a symbol is appreciable only by the intellect; and the outermost pillars, which are in the open air, and in the outer courtyard, and which are also perceptible by the external senses, (82) in reference to which fact it is that they are said to have differed from the others only in the pedestals, for they were made of brass. But since the mind is the principal thing in us, having an authority over the external senses, and since that which is an object of the external senses is the extremity, and as it were the pedestal or foundation of it, the architect has likened the mind to gold, and the object of the external sense to brass. (83) And these are the measures of the pillars, they are ten cubits in length, and five cubits and a half in width, in order that the tabernacle may be seen to be of equal dimensions in all its parts.